Gaza crisis: Hundreds of academics sign letter calling for Irish universities to suspend ties with Israeli institutions

Academics write: ‘The scale and severity of Israel’s current war on the Gaza Strip has exceeded all previous levels of violence in the prolonged and brutal Israeli occupation of Palestine’

Sir, – We write as academics and scholars in or from Ireland. The scale and severity of Israel’s current war on the Gaza Strip has exceeded all previous levels of violence in the prolonged and brutal Israeli occupation of Palestine.

It is a campaign of ethnic cleansing and, according to many experts, genocidal violence.

The incursion by Palestinian armed groups on October 7th included criminal attacks against civilians.

But under no circumstances does international law permit the systematic bombardment and collective punishment of civilians in a besieged occupied territory.

The dehumanising language and tropes widely used by Israeli leaders in reference to Palestinians echo those typically associated with genocidal incitement and intent.

In the past three weeks, Israel’s military acts have matched those words, killing more than 9,000 Palestinians inside Gaza, including some 3,760 children (more than the annual number of children killed in the rest of the world’s armed conflicts combined).

Many more Palestinians are dying from the lack of fuel, water, electricity and medical supplies due to the deliberate blockade. Gaza’s hospitals are barely able to function – no power for ventilators, using vinegar as antiseptic, performing surgeries without anaesthetic – and continue to be hit by Israeli airstrikes. The situation is beyond inhumane.

Leading Jewish and Israeli scholars of Holocaust and genocide studies have called this “a textbook case of genocide”. Bosnian genocide experts have likewise stated that “what is happening in Gaza is genocide”.

After the first week of Israel’s onslaught, a group of more than 800 international lawyers and genocide scholars were “compelled to sound the alarm about the possibility of genocide being perpetrated by Israeli forces”, while UN human rights special rapporteurs warned of “the risk of genocide against the Palestinian people”, calling on all states and international organisations to fulfil their duties to prevent genocide.

The killing and destruction has only escalated since then. More than 60 UN member states have now used the language of genocide to describe Israel’s attacks on Gaza’s population. This week, the South African foreign minister referenced the Rwandan genocide and “reminded the international community not to stand idle while another genocide is unfolding”.

With the atrocities in Gaza now added to Israel’s 75 years of colonisation and occupation of Palestinian lands, there should be nothing remotely approximate to “business as usual” continuing.

Many Irish universities and EU-funded research projects have active collaborations with Israeli universities. Israeli universities are, in the words of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, “major, willing and persistent accomplices in Israel’s regime of occupation” and its military infrastructures.

Meanwhile, several Palestinian universities in Gaza have been destroyed by the Israeli airstrikes, with some 70 academics and 2,000 students among the civilians killed.

We call on all universities in Ireland to immediately sever any existing institutional partnerships or affiliations with Israeli institutions. Those ties should be suspended until the occupation of Palestinian territory is ended, the Palestinian rights to equality and self-determination are vindicated, and the right of Palestinian refugees to return is facilitated.

Anything less at this point amounts to tacit support for crimes against humanity. – Yours, etc,

The full list of signatories is available here